Monthly Archives: September 2010

Painting Conservation, Part 5

Not much time to spend on ‘Boats on the Shore’ this week…

However, the tears on the painted side of the picture have been protected from further paint loss or damage by adhering strong tissue paper to the affected areas.

The picture can now be placed face down and pressure in the form of small weights applied to flatten any distortions in the canvas. Damp blotting paper and a heated spatula applied locally assists in the flattening and the edges of the tear can be aligned before further treatment.


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Two weeks to go…

Napalm by Banksy

Time is ticking now…. as our Street Art Season launch looms within two weeks. I really can’t wait for the night. There’s some amazing stuff programmed – in particular the Live Street Art Battle between six artists. 

Our Herbert Matters invite (the campaign is launching on the same night as Street Art) has been distributed nearly four weeks in advance with some success.   

Regular VIP invites have also been sent out.   

Monday saw us take on the might of the incoming students at Coventry Uni Freshers week – we have taken the liberty of personally inviting all of them to the launch and will be offering some amazing popping gum, artwork and flying saucers to those sensible enough to sign up to our newsletters. This should be the maker or breaker of our launch event so it’s really important to sell the opportunity to the students and hopefully inform their attendance patterns for years to come.   

Design and art colleges around the region emailed and called.   

Posters, banners, pop ups and internal signage – all complete and in place.   

Rail ads running, magazine ads provided, listing sites updated …
should just be a case of making the most of the press opportunities between now and the launch.   

Other things still to complete … street art in the community – Anne-Marie Sandos and Dominic Bubb are working on two great projects bringing street art to two specific areas of the city – one hopefully being Coventry Train Station!   

… next time we talk should be just before the launch with fingers and toes crossed… more then…   


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Coventry Blitz 70th Anniversary

Noreen Dalglish (top right)

To commemorate the 70th anniversary since the Coventry Blitz the Herbert has all sorts of events and projects happening… in fact the whole of Coventry has lots of things going on. We’ll be hosting a Blitz family day in conjunction with the Coventry Transport Museum and one of the History Learning Officers is running a project called ‘We Will Remember Them’ where people can send in photographs of themselves, family members or friends who were a part of WW2 along with some information about who they were and what they did.

As a part of this project I have been delivering WW2 assemblies for local primary schools where we have been testing out an air raid siren, trying on a gas mask and helmet and most importantly learning about the lives of some of Coventry’s citizen’s who contributed towards the War Effort.

One of the people we have been looking at is Noreen Dalglish, an Ambulance driver for the Civil Defence. Noreen was only 20 years old when she joined the Civil Defence in 1938, a year before war was declared on Germany. She said that everyone knew the war was going to happen and rather than be forced into a job she wanted to choose what to do. At the time of joining the Ambulance service, Noreen did not possess a driving licence and instead had to learn as part of her training. When it came to taking her test she drove up a road and straight into a tree, but the Civil Defence needed as many Ambulance drivers as possible so they passed her as she hadn’t caused any damage to the car!

When describing what it was like to be driving out during a blackout with a full uniform on she said, “You’re driving in the dark with your gas mask on, you couldn’t see or hear anything – or breathe! It was horrible. And you had your gas outfit on. All the trousers and the jackets and everything. And driving in that… it was awful. It was like driving down a dark tunnel with a blanket over your head. It was really awful.”

Read the rest of this entry

I am Word Girl, hear me roar…Or, The life and times of a Marketing Assistant

Actually, to be technically accurate, I guess it should be word woman, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it! Apparently writing a blog entry isn’t hard (according to the masterful and all-knowing Head of Marketing…a-hem), but I reckon there’s a difference in writing something that people want to read, and writing something that just sits there filling up the page with little black marks.

I’m supposed to talk about what I do everyday, so here goes…

I spend most of my time writing copy for our publicity, producing flyers and our listings guide, emailing people to hassle them for text they are supposed to have sent me weeks before, gracefully accepting compliments about my gorgeous shoes, editing text sent by colleagues, liaising with our designers (lovely Selina!), climbing the walls (I’m a ninja, didn’t I mention that?) attending exhibition planning meetings, and generally trying to get people to make me tea…

I know it’s probably really sad, but I love my job. I’ve not long returned from maternity leave, and while undoubtedly my joy at being in work is partly motivated by escaping my ankle-biting terrors, I truly enjoy the creative aspect of my job – plus there’s lots of scope for me to flex my excellent and very useful skill of pretending to be cleverer than I am!! It’s rewarding to think that all the hours I spend toiling away, producing endless flyers and brochures actually equates to visitors through the doors.

I’ll leave you with a favourite thought of mine:

You can never have too many shoes, cakes or books. I have more books than I can count, quite a lot of shoes, and I’ve eaten all the cake….


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Street Art – Our Journey Continues…

Love Supreme - Sickboy

Okay … I promised to keep you updated from time to time so you get a sense of the challenges and movement in the marketing of this exhibition … so here it is:

At time of writing we are still basking in the glow of a very successful Street Art Season event – the first in fact – It’s Yours Take It!

We gave away over 100 pieces of street art provided by artists from across the globe as well as putting on some live art demonstrations. Marketing was very limited through traditional channels – just listing in our What’s On Guide and features in regional press so I decided to go heavy on the online newsletters, listing sites, forums and social media – result? Around 1,000 people attended the Street Art event on its own – boosted by an additional 1,200 people attending our History Fair on the same day – very happy.

It was very rewarding to see such a large body of local people interested in owning an original piece when taking away the barrier of money!

So now it’s full steam ahead with exhibitions marketing. Rail adverts have gone to press through the Midlands Rail Network and will be appearing over the next two weeks. None of the lead images apart from the controversial Banksy images scream out to be used above another,  so I have opted to use a mainly text-based approach trading off the names of established artists on the rail networks.

The leaflet has been signed off by the V & A – I have opted for a 6 page A5 full colour option that can cope with the inclusion of the additional works we are programming with Fresh Paint (work from 6 emerging artists) and Mohammed Ali – A West Midlands based artist who is exhibiting and delivering some talks and events. 40,000 of these will go out in the middle of next week if I can afford it. Read the rest of this entry

Herbert 2.0

Hello, my name is Paul and I’m currently managing our Herbert 2.0 project. It’s been up and running for around 15 months now and I’m finally getting round to writing an introduction to it for this blog. It’s not just laziness on my part though; we’re now coming up to the stage when the results of the project will be visible in the museum itself.

First, a little bit of background. The project itself is funded through the MLA‘s Renaissance in the Regions scheme. As well as me, five other people are working on the project – Natalie, Harriet, Erin, Kerrie and Jim. Between us we have three main objectives that we’re trying to achieve.

  • To provide staff training in new and creative media skills
  • To create new content for the web and our galleries – this blog and our other social media sites are just one example of how this is put into practice
  • To develop the use of new technologies to help enhance the user experience in the museum

So far we’ve spent lots of time finding out what other people are up to and looking at what would work best for us. The key throughout has been to focus on what we want to deliver and not worry too much about the technology. It would be very easy to get caught up in the latest bit of hardware and lose sight of what will work for our visitors. We’re also keen to make sure that the most important part of the museum experience remains the collections – whatever we do has to enhance and provide extra layers of information and content but shouldn’t detract from the core museum visit.

So, after initially thinking a system using RFID tags and smart cards would be best we’ve opted to go for a mobile application running on Apple’s iOS & Google’s Android. Our partners at the Serious Games Institute are busy working on developing the application so hopefully we’ll have more to share soon.


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Who was the Pharaoh Akhenaten?

A view of the exhibition

Strange and exotic yet unnervingly familiar – Egyptian civilisation echoes through our consciousness through architecture, art, films, language, music, engineering… the list goes on and on.  So it is very exciting to see a rare Egyptian object up close.

The Herbert showed a carved relief of the Pharaoh Akhenaten from Tuesday 7 September to Tuesday 14 September.  The object is part of the collection held by the British Museum and is a bit of a teaser for an exhibition called Secret Egypt coming up at the Herbert next year.  My involvement was to organise a team of volunteers to help people make the most of their visit to the exhibit and gather information for next year’s exhibition.  Having it here has created quite a buzz – it was only here for a week which somehow seemed to add to the excitement.

There were two volunteers taking part every day and by the end of the second day they had welcomed one hundred visitors. One of the volunteers said: “I think it is wonderful.  The actual thing itself is only small but knowing how old it is makes it really special.  The film has been really brilliant.  It has really whetted people’s appetites.  I really like Egypt, I’m fascinated by anything to do with it.  I think it is the strangeness such as mummification, the things they believed, their intelligence and the things they built.  They had so many inventive things like make-up.  I must have watched everything on the telly to learn as much as I can.”

Another volunteer told me about her experience so far.  “It has been good fun but tiring.  The first two days have been really busy.  The visitors were well spaced out and we really enjoyed it.  You feel like you want to be an Egyptian yourself. They seemed so elegant.  A lady came who was very knowledgeable, with a friend who was a bit reluctant but by the end of the visit she had been won over.  One visitor really liked the way the panels were hung so that they looked like they were hovering in mid-air.  The atmospheric lighting gave it a tomb-like feel.”

We have had some really positive comments from visitors:

“I don’t go to London, I can’t afford it … so I came to the museum.”

“I would love to go to Egypt but I will never get the chance – today a little bit of Egypt has come to me.”

The exhibition ‘Who was Pharaoh Akhenaten?’ ended on Tuesday 14 September 2010.  The Secret Egypt exhibition takes place from February to June 2011.


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Painting Conservation, Part 4

Detail showing signature, brush strokes and paint loss on right hand side.

Test clean cotton wool swabs with surface dirt from ‘Boats on the Shore’.
Test clean on sky and sea also showing impasto or raised brush strokes.

Back at work after a short break.  I have continued with test cleans on ‘Boats on the Shore’ on different areas of the picture to ensure that different pigments react uniformly to the solution – this is not always the case.  

It appears that the picture is unvarnished – i.e. there is no surface coating on top of the paint layer.  The picture has a dull brownish-yellowish appearance which has the effect of flattening out the colours and it seems that this is caused by the significant layer of surface dirt rather than an aged varnish. Further tests are required to confirm this.  

I will be concentrating on the tears in the following weeks…  


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Street Art … an unknown response

Time Waits For No Man by Kerry Roper

I’m really excited about our forthcoming Street Art Season kicking off this weekend with Street Art Saturday featuring an It’s Yours Take It event where we will be giving away over 100 pieces of art donated by artists from across the globe at 12.30pm at the Herbert.

The thing is this. There have only been a handful of street art exhibitions delivered across the globe and I’m finding it really difficult to judge what the likely public response to the exhibition and events programme we’ve put together will be.

Target audiences for this kind of work are hard to call. You would expect that the skateboarding masses would be interested but they are a traditionally hard demographic to engage with. Good luck and lateral thinking needed here I think.

Contemporary art lovers should love this but how many feel that street art is an act of vandalism? Not many I would expect but how many really appreciate the scope and range that this art form covers? I hope they will come along to find out – some of the works from the V & A, Mohammed Ali and our Fresh Paint sections will make this a unique opportunity to fill in the gaps and challenge people’s conception of what they think street art is.

I’m hopeful local students arriving in the city will also take the opportunity to engage with us early and we will be doing everything we can invite as many as we can to the UK launch of  the V & A exhibition.

Finally there’s the star impact… how much do people want to see original prints by Banksy, Sherpard Fairey, Ben Eine, Sickboy and D*Face? If it’s good enough for Cameron and Obama then has it not got big enough for the national consciousness?

The events programme is immense – check out the website – you can witness live art battles, spoken work, projections, DJs, talks from internationally renowned photographers and commentators and loads of kids inspired stuff… again should have a monster response but I still honestly can’t judge this one as it feels so unique – completely uncharted territory when all combined. Read the rest of this entry

Is This Thing On?….

Today’s guest post is from Dave Sumner, a Marketing and Communications Assistant at the Herbert.

Hello my name is Dave Sumner and believe it or not this is my very first foray into the world of blogging so please hang in there with me.

In a world run on social websites I have found myself shying away from Twitter faces and my tubes. Call me crazy, but I’ve never understood what’s social about sitting on your own at a computer screen tapping away at a keyboard. So when asked to write a blog about myself and my role at the Herbert I was understandably apprehensive, but I thought it was time to have a go, roll my sleeves up and join the thronging masses.

Now I know you’re probably thinking ‘this guy’s been living in a cave and if he ever sees a computer he’ll start burning it at the stake for witchcraft’. But, believe it or not, before joining the Herbert I actually spent 10 years working in IT on an IT helpdesk. I guess that’s where my reluctance started.

After having spent 9 to 5 chained to a desk slowly becoming my own Dilbert character, coming home and voluntarily doing the same thing just didn’t seem right. 

I joined the Herbert Marketing team back in July and I’m here on a short-term contract for six months. I’m here to mainly help in setting up and running a new CRM Database. It will eventually be used by all the staff here as a central source of information that will hopefully improve everyone’s understanding of the relationships that exist between ourselves and our contacts the outside world. I’ve also found myself doing some telephone prospecting to businesses around the area to establish whether they might have a need to hire some of our competitively priced rooms whilst explaining what fantastic facilities we have here at the Herbert. Read the rest of this entry

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